Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Cell nucleus


Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is the most common hematological cancer in children. Although risk-adaptive therapy, CNS-directed chemotherapy, and supportive care have improved the survival of ALL patients, disease relapse is still the leading cause of cancer-related death in children. Therefore, new drugs are needed as frontline treatments in high-risk disease and as salvage agents in relapsed ALL. In this study, we report that purified sulforaphane, a natural isothiocyanate found in cruciferous vegetables, has anti-leukemic properties in a broad range of ALL cell lines and primary lymphoblasts from pediatric T-ALL and pre-B ALL patients. The treatment of ALL leukemic cells with sulforaphane resulted in dose-dependent apoptosis and G2/M cell cycle arrest, which was associated with the activation of caspases (3, 8, and 9), inactivation of PARP, p53-independent upregulation of p21(CIP1/WAF1), and inhibition of the Cdc2/Cyclin B1 complex. Interestingly, sulforaphane also inhibited the AKT and mTOR survival pathways in most of the tested cell lines by lowering the levels of both total and phosphorylated proteins. Finally, the administration of sulforaphane to the ALL xenograft models resulted in a reduction of tumor burden, particularly following oral administration, suggesting a potential role as an adjunctive agent to improve the therapeutic response in high-risk ALL patients with activated AKT signaling.

Concepts: Protein, Cell nucleus, Cancer, Cell biology, Chemotherapy, Cell cycle, Leukemia, Acute lymphoblastic leukemia


Parallel single-cell sequencing protocols represent powerful methods for investigating regulatory relationships, including epigenome-transcriptome interactions. Here, we report a single-cell method for parallel chromatin accessibility, DNA methylation and transcriptome profiling. scNMT-seq (single-cell nucleosome, methylation and transcription sequencing) uses a GpC methyltransferase to label open chromatin followed by bisulfite and RNA sequencing. We validate scNMT-seq by applying it to differentiating mouse embryonic stem cells, finding links between all three molecular layers and revealing dynamic coupling between epigenomic layers during differentiation.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Cell nucleus, Gene expression, Molecular biology, Histone, Stem cell, Embryonic stem cell


Eukaryotes have two types of spliceosomes, comprised of either major (U1, U2, U4, U5, U6) or minor (U11, U12, U4atac, U6atac; <1%) snRNPs. The high conservation of minor introns, typically one amidst many major introns in several hundred genes, despite their poor splicing, has been a long-standing enigma. Here, we discovered that the low abundance minor spliceosome's catalytic snRNP, U6atac, is strikingly unstable (t½<2 hr). We show that U6atac level depends on both RNA polymerases II and III and can be rapidly increased by cell stress-activated kinase p38MAPK, which stabilizes it, enhancing mRNA expression of hundreds of minor intron-containing genes that are otherwise suppressed by limiting U6atac. Furthermore, p38MAPK-dependent U6atac modulation can control minor intron-containing tumor suppressor PTEN expression and cytokine production. We propose that minor introns are embedded molecular switches regulated by U6atac abundance, providing a novel post-transcriptional gene expression mechanism and a rationale for the minor spliceosome's evolutionary conservation. DOI:

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Cell nucleus, Gene expression, RNA, Messenger RNA, Spliceosome, RNA splicing


Acute kidney injury (AKI) is a common consequence of systemic illness or injury and it complicates several forms of major surgery. Two major difficulties have hampered progress in AKI research and clinical management. AKI is difficult to detect early and its pathogenesis is still poorly understood. We recently reported results from multi-center studies where two urinary markers of cell-cycle arrest, tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinases-2 (TIMP-2) and insulin-like growth factor-binding protein 7 (IGFBP7) were validated for development of AKI well ahead of clinical manifestations-azotemia and oliguria. Cell-cycle arrest is known to be involved in the pathogenesis of AKI and this ‘dark side’ may also involve progression to chronic kidney disease. However, cell-cycle arrest has a ‘light side’ as well, since this mechanism can protect cells from the disastrous consequences of entering cell division with damaged DNA or insufficient bioenergetic resources during injury or stress. Whether we can use the light side to help prevent AKI remains to be seen, but there is already evidence that cell-cycle arrest biomarkers are indicators of both sides of this complex physiology.

Concepts: DNA, Renal failure, Chronic kidney disease, Kidney, Nephrology, Cell nucleus, Cell, Cell division


Cerebral palsy (CP) is a condition affecting young children that causes lifelong disabilities. Umbilical cord blood cells improve motor function in experimental systems via paracrine signaling. After demonstrating safety, we conducted a Phase II trial of autologous cord blood (ACB) infusion in children with CP to test whether ACB could improve function (, NCT01147653; IND 14360). In this double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study of a single intravenous infusion of 1-5 × 10(7) total nucleated cells per kilogram of ACB, children ages 1 to 6 years with CP were randomly assigned to receive ACB or placebo at baseline, followed by the alternate infusion 1 year later. Motor function and magnetic resonance imaging brain connectivity studies were performed at baseline, 1, and 2 years post-treatment. The primary endpoint was change in motor function 1 year after baseline infusion. Additional analyses were performed at 2 years. Sixty-three children (median age 2.1 years) were randomized to treatment (n = 32) or placebo (n = 31) at baseline. Although there was no difference in mean change in Gross Motor Function Measure-66 (GMFM-66) scores at 1 year between placebo and treated groups, a dosing effect was identified. In an analysis 1 year post-ACB treatment, those who received doses ≥2 × 10(7) /kg demonstrated significantly greater increases in GMFM-66 scores above those predicted by age and severity, as well as in Peabody Developmental Motor Scales-2 Gross Motor Quotient scores and normalized brain connectivity. Results of this study suggest that appropriately dosed ACB infusion improves brain connectivity and gross motor function in young children with CP. Stem Cells Translational Medicine 2017.

Concepts: Cell nucleus, Clinical trial, Stem cell, Magnetic resonance imaging, Umbilical cord, Cord blood, Wharton's jelly, Cord blood bank


Ki-67 and RepoMan have key roles during mitotic exit. Previously, we showed that Ki-67 organizes the mitotic chromosome periphery and recruits protein phosphatase 1 (PP1) to chromatin at anaphase onset, in a similar manner as RepoMan (Booth et al., 2014). Here we show how Ki-67 and RepoMan form mitotic exit phosphatases by recruiting PP1, how they distinguish between distinct PP1 isoforms and how the assembly of these two holoenzymes are dynamically regulated by Aurora B kinase during mitosis. Unexpectedly, our data also reveal that Ki-67 and RepoMan bind PP1 using an identical, yet novel mechanism, interacting with a PP1 pocket that is engaged only by these two PP1 regulators. These findings not only show how two distinct mitotic exit phosphatases are recruited to their substrates, but also provide immediate opportunities for the design of novel cancer therapeutics that selectively target the Ki-67:PP1 and RepoMan:PP1 holoenzymes.

Concepts: Cell nucleus, Enzyme, Chromosome, Cell cycle, Kinase, Mitosis, Chromatin, Phosphatase


Nuclear pore complexes form a selective filter that allows the rapid passage of transport factors (TFs) and their cargoes across the nuclear envelope, while blocking the passage of other macromolecules. Intrinsically disordered proteins (IDPs) containing phenylalanyl-glycyl (FG) rich repeats line the pore and interact with TFs. However, the reason that transport can be both fast and specific remains undetermined, through lack of atomic-scale information on the behavior of FGs and their interaction with TFs. We used NMR spectroscopy to address these issues. We show that FG repeats are highly dynamic IDPs, stabilized by the cellular environment. Fast transport of TFs is supported because the rapid motion of FG motifs allows them to exchange on and off TFs extremely quickly through transient interactions. Because TFs uniquely carry multiple pockets for FG repeats, only they can form the many frequent interactions needed for specific passage between FG repeats to cross the NPC.

Concepts: Pharmacology, Cell nucleus, Nuclear magnetic resonance, NMR spectroscopy, Interaction, Nuclear pore, Nuclear envelope, The Passage


Clustered, regularly interspaced, short palindromic repeats-CRISPR associated (CRISPR-Cas) systems are prokaryotic RNA-directed endonuclease machineries that act as an adaptive immune system against foreign genetic elements. Using small CRISPR RNAs that provide specificity, Cas proteins recognize and degrade nucleic acids. Our previous work demonstrated that the Cas9 endonuclease from Francisella novicida (FnCas9) is capable of targeting endogenous bacterial RNA. Here, we show that FnCas9 can be directed by an engineered RNA-targeting guide RNA to target and inhibit a human +ssRNA virus, hepatitis C virus, within eukaryotic cells. This work reveals a versatile and portable RNA-targeting system that can effectively function in eukaryotic cells and be programmed as an antiviral defense.

Concepts: DNA, Protein, Gene, Cell nucleus, Bacteria, Organism, Virus, RNA


Taxol and other antimitotic agents are frontline chemotherapy agents but the mechanisms responsible for patient benefit remain unclear. Following a genome-wide siRNA screen, we identified the oncogenic transcription factor Myc as a taxol sensitizer. Using time-lapse imaging to correlate mitotic behavior with cell fate, we show that Myc sensitizes cells to mitotic blockers and agents that accelerate mitotic progression. Myc achieves this by upregulating a cluster of redundant pro-apoptotic BH3-only proteins and suppressing pro-survival Bcl-xL. Gene expression analysis of breast cancers indicates that taxane responses correlate positively with Myc and negatively with Bcl-xL. Accordingly, pharmacological inhibition of Bcl-xL restores apoptosis in Myc-deficient cells. These results open up opportunities for biomarkers and combination therapies that could enhance traditional and second-generation antimitotic agents.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Genetics, Cell nucleus, Gene expression, Cancer, Chemotherapy, Transcription factor


BACKGROUND: Understanding the mechanical properties of chromatin is an essential step towards deciphering the physicalrules of gene regulation. In the past ten years, many single molecule experiments have been carried out, andhigh resolution measurements of the chromatin fiber stiffness are now available. Simulations have been usedin order to link those measurements with structural cues, but so far no clear agreement among different groupshas been reached. RESULTS: We revisit here one of the most precise results obtained with carefully reconstituted fibers. CONCLUSIONS: We show that the mechanical properties of the chromatin fiber can be quantitatively accounted for by thestiffness of the DNA molecule and the 3D structure of the chromatin fiber.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Cell nucleus, Gene expression, Histone, RNA, Chromosome, Chromatin